Transhumanists Are Writing Their Own Manifesto for the UK General Election
The UK Transhumanist Party may not field a candidate, but it’ll decide who can lead Britain to transcendence.
Image: European Parliament/Flickr
As the UK's 2015 general election approaches, you've probably already made up your mind on who knows best about the economy, who you agree with on foreign policy, and who cuts a more leader-like figure. But did you ever wonder who will deliver immortality sooner?
If so, there's good news for you, since that's exactly what the UK Transhumanist Party was created for. Put together on Facebook by a group of British-based transhumanists (although the founder appears to be a Swedish student), its laconically-stated goal is "to start off a UK political transhumanist movement." But while the fledgling "UKTP" has still to decide whether to field any political candidates itself, its members are scrupulously sifting through mainstream politicians to discover if they are any good–from a transhuman point of view.
"We are holding regular calls to figure out what would be the most desirable outcome of the election for us," David Wood, one of the group's most active members and long-time administrator of the London Futurists Meetup group, told me in a phone interview. "We are conducting a proper study of the main parties' manifestos, and of their track records, to understand what their policies are on themes such as longevity and technology."
One feature that could win a party a pile of transhumanist brownie points would be its willingness to engage in so-called "moonshot projects:" ambitious, future-oriented—and probably expensive—scientific ventures aimed at harnessing the potential of technology to revolutionize human life as we know it. "A good example of a moonshot project is the European Human Brain Project, a $1 billion initiative to understand better how the brain works. British parties that were most behind that would score better with us," Wood said.
"In general we prefer parties that focus on using technologies like nanotech, synthetic biology, or artificial intelligence to improve our lives, rather than those that are stuck in the present and obsessed with raising GDP by one percentage point—is it really important?"
The "moonshot" principle is one of the ideological pillars outlined in the UKTP's own draft manifesto, against which British transhumanists will judge their prospective representatives' positions. The document (which is still being tweaked) also offers a glimpse of the platform future transhumanist candidates might run on.
We prefer parties that focus on using technologies like nanotech, synthetic biology, or artificial intelligence to improve our lives
Obviously, "indefinite life extension" is one of the main stated goals, but the UKTP doesn't come across as a single-issue party. A transhumanist politician would look at everything with a disruptive eye: from education (which should become lifelong training) to gender identity (rechristened "morphological freedom"), to unemployment (guaranteeing a basic income to whoever loses their job because of automation.)
On balance, the UKTP falls on the progressive side of the spectrum, both socially and economically, although its keenness on decentralization and some references to cryptocurrencies give it a libertarian bent. The most important question is: would anybody actually vote for it?
Wood thinks that it's not that farfetched: "A large proportion of the electorate is dissatisfied with the current level of political discussion, so there's scope for more ideas. Many people would say that they support our policies on economy, clean energy and technology," he said.
That a party campaigning for immortality and in-vitro meat could have any influence on the outcome of the election still strikes one as a political fiction. But more and more transhumanist political movements are mushrooming around the world, including one in Europe and futurist Zoltan Istvan's transhumanist 2016 presidential bid in the US. Perhaps soon politicians may discover an electoral value in the transhumanist demographic.